Five Destinations for Family-Friendly Fun in St. Pete
As if the water and wonderful views weren't enough, St. Petersburg, FL, offers plenty of fun for the family, whether spending the day outdoors or seeking relief from the heat. From a museum designed just for little ones to Segway-based sightseeing, there's plenty of fun to fill a day, a weekend or an entire vacation.
Kids Rule at Great Explorations Children's Museum
Great Explorations (1925 4th St. North, St. Petersburg, FL) offers so much to do that you may want to visit more than once. While it's all fun, just about everything also is designed to be a learning experience for children under age 10. Kids watch reptiles and arachnids go about their daily lives in enclosed habitats. Some kids dress up as a news anchor or weather person to put on a newscast in a child-sized studio. Everyone can learn about animal care and science at the Pet Vet exhibit, look at fish scales up close under a microscope or listen in on ways to keep pets healthy. The museum hosts regular events, such as summer play days and day camps.
Explore Imaginative Art at the Dali Museum
The Dali Museum (1 Dali Blvd., St. Petersburg, FL) is named after one of the most well-known surrealist artists, Salvador Dali. The museum features 90 of his paintings, as well as numerous other works he created, such as jewelry, photographs and the unique statue Venus de Milo with Drawers (and PomPoms). It's the perfect place for one of those rainy or super hot days when you're ready to do something different. Kids of all ages will appreciate Dali's unique way of turning ordinary objects into art that's anything but ordinary. The museum also has family storytime every week, plus art camp and Dilly Dally with Dali, a program that offers puzzles, games and craft activities designed for families.
Spend the Day at America's Best Beach, Ft. DeSoto Park
A write-up about St. Pete isn't complete without mention of the beach. Ft. DeSoto's North Beach (3500 Pinellas Bayway S., Tierra Verde, FL) was named the best beach in the country by Trip Advisor in 2009. Not just a typical beach area, Ft. Desoto Park is huge, spanning five interconnected islands. Without spending a penny, you can hike a trail, explore 3 miles of white-sand beach or pack a lunch to enjoy at one of the picnic shelters. Spend a little to rent bicycles or opt for a surrey so the entire family can ride the same pedal-powered vehicle around the park's trails. See egrets, manatees and even dolphins while paddling a rented kayak—some even have clear bottoms for unobstructed underwater views.
Study Nature at Sunken Gardens
Sunken Gardens (1825 4th St. North, St. Petersburg, FL) offers a pleasant way to spend the afternoon enjoying a diverse variety of plants. This not-so-secret garden hosts more than 50,000 tropical plants, so there's more variety than one can imagine. But it's not just about plants—this little slice of paradise also has ponds, waterfalls, butterfly gardens and dragonflies to delight the kids. Sunken Gardens hosts regular events, too. Study nature photography or enroll the kids in Butterfly Bonanza where they can learn about butterflies and how to attract them to the yard.
Scope Out the City While on a Segway
A Segway tour offers an interesting alternative to walking or driving around town. St. Pete Segway Tours (1 Beach Dr. SE, St. Petersburg, FL) caters to those 12 and older, so this is an ideal outing with teens and even adventurous grandparents. Ride from downtown through North Straub Park and on to the waterfront area, past several marinas. The tour's hosts always throw in a few surprises to keep the tours fresh and fun for everyone.
Kathy Adams is an award-winning journalist and freelance writer who traveled the world handling numerous duties for music artists. She writes travel and budgeting tips and destination guides for USA Today, Travelocity and ForRent, among others. She enjoys exploring foreign locales and hiking off the beaten path stateside, snapping pics of wildlife and nature instead of selfies.